Prayers in India for elderly nun gang-raped at convent

Prayers in India for elderly nun gang-raped at convent
Students from the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat, 70 kilometres north of Kolkata, lighting candles at a protest after a 71-year-old nun was gang-raped at the convent.

KOLKATA - Prayers were said at churches across India Sunday for an elderly nun who was gang-raped at a convent in an attack that has intensified anger over sexual violence and fuelled fears among beleaguered Christians.

The attack on the 71-year-old comes just days after India banned a documentary about the 2012 gang-rape of a student in Delhi, and with Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising to crack down on religious violence and ensure freedom of worship for all faiths.

The nun was attacked late Friday after a gang of about half a dozen robbers broke into a convent school in eastern West Bengal state and ransacked the premises, police said.

The robbers gagged a security guard before assaulting the nun. They then entered the principal's room and stole cash, a laptop and a mobile phone, according to police.

Four of the six attackers have been identified through CCTV footage and a reward of 100,000 rupees (around US$1,500) is on offer for any leads on the suspects.

Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent who visited the convent near the town of Ranaghat town, said the robbery appeared to have been carefully planned.

"CCTV footage showed that six men, aged between 20 and 30, scaled the boundary wall around 11.40 pm and entered the school and disconnected the telephone lines," he told AFP.

"At least two of them were armed and the rest were carrying burglary tools. In the chapel, a holy scripture was found torn and... a bust of Jesus was broken," Ghosh said.

Prayers were held Sunday at churches in West Bengal for the wellbeing of the nun, who is recuperating at a hospital in Ranaghat, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the state capital Kolkata.

"In our Sunday Mass, we prayed for the sister to recover quickly from trauma, fear and her physical injuries. We will pray for her again this evening," Thomas D'Souza, the archbishop of Kolkata, told AFP.

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